Africa’s Development Story

By Janes Ouma Odongo

Africa is endowed with rich and diverse renewable and non-renewable natural resources, yet its people remain among the poorest in the world.

Africa’s environment is continuously being degraded. The region is increasingly experiencing desertification, climatic variability and extreme events such as floods and droughts. While the region is most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, its capability to respond and adapt to its impacts is limited. The region’s forests, biodiversity, and coastal and marine environments are also under severe threat.

Africa is an important supplier of natural resources globally, and the extractive industry (oil, gas, minerals) plays a crucial role in many African economies. Accounting for more than 50 per cent of Africa’s export in the 1990s, the extractive industry constitutes Africa’s largest export category. Exploitation of Africa’s abundant mineral resources was a major motivation for colonization. It is still is a challenge to add value to the exploited resources so as to obtain significant revenues for domestic savings and investment.

In our view, Africa’s lack of investment in infrastructure, transport and industry since independence has played a role in the maintenance of this underdeveloped state. Our leaders have not taken any daring initiatives towards the expansion of industries, load, port networks as well as the availability or accessibility of several other commons that need to exist before realistic upward economic growth momentum can be experienced. Until recently, though this still persists in many African nations, our leaders have tended to focus more on impoverishing the citizens, acquiring more wealth, strengthening their own military prowess for the leaders rather than nation’s sake and ignoring calls for improving economic and human development of their nations. This can be attributed to the fact that most of them had experience of working under colonialist regimes which had no respect for human rights; especially for Africans, or having been guerillas with only lessons learnt being those on how to torture and make enemies to toe the line. How independence age leaders barely knew or even wanted to know a thing on the role of the state in achieving economic progression for the nation and her citizens. This was made more worse, as well, by their not having thought of their states as competitors in the global economy, they were merely contented with receiving aid and giving away precious natural resources of the continent in return.

This was made worse by the high illiteracy levels in many an African nation. It is only recently that Africans have started acknowledging their role in the global village thanks to the rise in literacy among Africans coupled with increased access to the global mass media and economic empowerment which has allowed people from the continent to interact more with the world.

Moving Towards Realizing the Millennium Development Goals

The overriding sustainable development challenge in Africa is poverty eradication. The “African Ministerial Statement to the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) identifies poverty eradication as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. Africa is the only region in the world where poverty has increased both in absolute and relative terms, (ECA, Economic Commission for Africa; 2014).

Apart from being the poorest region in the world, Africa remains the least developed, the most technologically backward, the most indebted, the most food-insecure and the most marginalized. Furthermore, malnutrition, disease, environmental degradation, natural resource depletion, poor and inadequate infrastructure, unemployment and weak institutional capacities continue to pose serious development challenges for Africa.

This state of affairs is exacerbated by recurring natural disasters and the AIDS pandemic, which is reversing decades of economic gains and imposing costs on Africa at least, twice those in any other developing regions, thus undermining sustainable economic growth. It is striking that Africa is the only continent not on track to meet most of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015, (ECA; 2014).

Although North Africa as a whole and a small number if Sub Saharan Africa economies have the potential to reach the sub goal of reducing extreme poverty by half by 2015, the slow pace of progress in the majority of countries indicates that as a continent, Africa is unlikely to reach this goal, given current trends. The number of the poor in Africa has actually risen since the 1990s by over 90 million, while the average income of the poor has declined, indicating worsening income distribution within the countries. On the whole, the proportion of people living with insufficient food has declined by only 3 percentage points since 1990, while hunger still prevails. This is especially true for rural Africa (ECA; 2005a).

Taking our country as an example, Kenya’s poverty incidence rose from 52 per cent in 1982 to an estimated 56 per cent in 2004. During the same period, rural absolute poverty had increased from about 48 per cent to about 60 per cent with urban informal settlements and rural areas being more adversely affected. More seriously, the gap between the rich and the poor increased with poverty levels, standing at approximately 56 per cent of the population by 2003, up from 52% in 1994.

The interaction of the poor and the environment has resulted in undesirable consequences, which contribute to the worsening poverty situation in Kenya. As a result of poverty, the poor engage in activities such as poor farming practices, overgrazing, burning of trees to make charcoal and poor waste disposal, to mention but a few.

The Gini coefficient increased from 0.40 in 1982 to 0.49 in 1992. The Gini coefficient for 1992 for urban areas was about 0.45. The distribution of income has continued to worsen. For instance, in 1982 in the rural areas, the bottom 20% of the population received 4.9 per cent of the income while the top 20 per cent received 56.9 per cent. By 1992, the distribution was 3.5 per cent and 60.2 per cent respectively. The poorest 20 per cent were even worse off in the urban areas in 1992, where the lowest 20 per cent received 2.9 per cent and top 20 per cent received 58.8 per cent, (Biodiversity Conservation and Information Network; 2005).

Even in view of the above, the emerging picture of Africa in the MDG report portrays a continent that has secured progress in key areas such as net primary enrolment, gender parity in primary education, political empowerment of women, access to safe drinking water, and stemming the spread of HIV/AIDS. Antiretroviral treatment is becoming available in a large number of countries and maternal mortality rates are falling in some places.

The report draws attention to policy innovations in Africa that are facilitating progress toward attainment of the MDGs. These innovations include new and expanded social protection programs, which were once thought to be unaffordable to most poor countries but are now embraced as important additional interventions to secure progress on key human development indicators. In addition, countries have used the MDGs as a framework for development planning, strengthening coordination and cascading the MDGs to lower tiers of government (UNDP 2000,

UN 2003).

Economic sustainability

Africa’s economies performed reasonably well in the 1960s and early 1970s but did poorly in the following two decades. However, since the late1990s, the economy has picked up. But the recovery’s sustainability is fragile for two reasons. First, strong domestic savings do not underpin it. Second, Africa’s economies remain vulnerable to outside shocks (ECA 2001a). Economic growth for 1990-2000 averaged only 2.1 per cent a year, less than population growth of 2.8 per cent. However, African economies have continued to sustain the growth momentum of the early 2000s and recorded an overall average real GDP growth rate of 5.4 percent (ECA, 2007). This can be attributed to substantial progress in macroeconomic stabilization, deregulation, privatization, trade, and exchange rates reforms. However, structural constraints and institutional weaknesses continue to inhibit a vigorous supply response, as most economies still depend on primary products, exhibiting a high export concentration. While 60 per cent of all exports from Africa are agricultural (66 per cent of which is unprocessed); they account for only 8 per cent of the countries’ GDP (Osuntogun; 2005).

Africa and foreign aid

Africa’s dependence on foreign aid is not helping the situation. The so called aid does not only breed a culture of dependence on others by the continent. The aid also comes with strings attached, of which all seek to burden the continent with high interests that will take the people of the borrowing African states decades to repay.

Foreign Direct Investment (FDI)

Average annual inflows of foreign direct investment (FDI) into Africa doubled in the 1980s compared with the 1970s. It also increased significantly in the 1990s and in the period 2000–2003. Comparisons with global flows and those of other regions may be more useful, however. In the mid 1970s, Africa’s share of global FDI was about 6 percent, a level that fell to the current 2–3 percent. Among developing countries, Africa’s share of FDI in 1976 was about 28 percent; it is now less than 9 percent Also in comparison with all other developing regions, Africa has remained aid dependent, with FDI lagging behind official development assistance (ODA). Between 1970 and 2003, FDI accounted for just one fifth of all capital flows to Africa. It is well known that FDI is one of the most dynamic international resource flows to developing countries.

FDI is particularly important because it is a package of tangible and intangible assets and because firms deploying them are important players in the global economy. There is considerable evidence that FDI can affect growth and development by complementing domestic investment and by facilitating trade and transfer of knowledge and technology.

Regional trade among African states

Over the period from 2007 to 2011, the average share of Intra-African exports in total merchandise exports in Africa was 11 per cent compared with 50 per cent in developing Asia, 21 per cent in Latin America and the Caribbean and 70 per cent in Europe. Furthermore, available evidence indicates that the continent’s actual level of trade is also below potential, given its level of development and factor endowments.

There are several reasons for the weak regional trade performance in Africa, one of which is that the approach to regional integration on the continent has so far focused more on the elimination of trade barriers and less on the development of the productive capacities necessary for trade. While the elimination of trade barriers is certainly important, it will not have the desired effect if it is not complemented with policy measures to boost supply capacities.

Africa’s development future

Though the continent has had numerous challenges as highlighted above, the continent seems to be geared towards having a brighter future. This era of sustainable development has been championed by undertakings such as the African Summit held in Lusaka, Zambia, 2001 which adopted the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) that makes peace, security, democracy, good economic and corporate governance preconditions for sustainable development on the continent. NEPAD is governed by the following priorities:

  1. Establishing the conditions for sustainable development by ensuring:
    • Peace and security;
    • Democracy and good, political, economic and corporate governance;
    • Regional co-operation and integration;
    • Capacity building.
  2. Policy reforms and increased investment in the following priority sectors-
    • Agriculture;
    • Human development with a focus on health, education, science and technology and skills development;
    • Building and improving infrastructure, including Information and Communication Technology (ICT),
    • Energy, Transport, Water and Sanitation;
    • Promoting diversification of production and exports, particularly with respect to agro-industries, manufacturing, mining, mineral beneficiation and tourism;
    • Accelerating intra-African trade and improving access to markets of developed countries; and
    • The environment.
  • Mobilizing resources by –
  • Increasing domestic savings and investments;
  • Improving management of public revenue and expenditure;
  • Improving Africa’s share in global trade;
  • Attracting foreign direct investment; and
  • Increasing capital flows through further debt reduction and increase capital flows (NEPAD: 2014)


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 About the author

Janes Ouma Odongo is a Masters of Arts in Disaster Management Student at The University of Nairobi. He is a Graduate Assistant in one of the Public Universities in Kenya

Parenting in the 21St Century: Notes from a Church Service


We should raise children in current rather than past circumstances but guided by the word of God- modernity and Godliness. Don’t try raising your children the same way your parents brought you up. Experiences differ over time.
The essence of parenting is to prepare our children to live. What you leave in your children is much more important than what you leave for them, (Malachi 2:16, Genesis 18: 16-17). There is need for Inter generational transfer of faith in God (Deut 6:4-9) from parents to their children and other generations that follow.
There are many methods of bringing up children. There are however few principles on the same. Choose wisely.

1. Good parents spend both quantity and quality time with their children. This should be a shared responsibility by men and women.
Today, unlike before, more mothers attend parents’ day in schools than fathers.
2. Good parents teach their children the word of God without manipulating them with it.

N/B: As a parent, always remember the words of Proverbs 22:6 in bringing up children.
The above verse, on training involves giving:
1. Love- Unlimited love.
2. Instruction- Ephesians 6:4- so that they know how to distinguish right from wrong and lead lives that glorify God.
3. Dedication- Are you as serious with parent as you are with your work? Do you have a strategic plan for parenting your children.
4. Discipline- If you love your children, then you will responsibly discipline them. Discipline ought to be consistent. It is meant to correct rather than embarrass them. It should be delivered all the time.
One outcome of discipline is that it teaches on submission to authority, self control and wisdom.
3. Good patents act as good examples to their children. Children learn by observation, immigration and repetition. Simply put, children learn by example, example and example.
#Each child is unique with unique attitudes character, strengths and weaknesses.
#Each child has God given purpose for living.
#Each child is formed in the image of God. Jeremiah 1:1-5
#Parenting should be customized to fit the home situation and new developments. Do not stick to a rule of book.
#Poor/ unwise decision making in parenting will affect how our children and children’s children will live. It will hurt your genealogy. 1st Samwel 8:1…….
#After all is done, there is no guarantee that our children will behave as we want. Disciplining increases the probability that our children will behave well. Most well disciplined children, even if taken to bad deeds, tend to find their way back to righteousness with time.
#After raising children in the right way, even if they mess up, believe on God to help them find way. It may be their way of learning and finding wisdom. Pray for them and continue advising them even in their bad deeds though.
#If you feel you did not raise them well, do not languish in regret but pray God to help them find the way.

A Critique of East of Eden Written by Professor Egara Kaba


First of all, it will surface to say that Professor Egara Kabaji is one of my mentors and a person I have lived to admirer a lot right from when I was a first year student at Masinde Muliro University. His conduct and achievements have over time planted in me the desire to perform better. I however hold a contrary opinion to his opinion in an article published in the Standard on 15Th May 2015 titled East of Eden: Why God did not create Eve from Adam’s Genitals.

First, Professor Kabaji has used the word genitals too loosely and in a marner that is disrespectful of women. He says that he’d rather they were created from human genitals and not the lung, ear, heart or the right hand. To him, creating women from the male genitalia would have increased their worth. This is not funny but more undermining. In my understanding, the word genital would be defined as a person or animal’s external organs of reproduction. Its synonyms are private parts, genitalia, sexual organs, reproductive organs or pudenda, ut would specifically mean the penis in this case because it is the onl one which existed before women were created.

Secondly, I hold the opinion that this article was not meant to discuss anything on the two third gender rule as provisioned in the constitution but to illicit a debate on creationism vis-à-vis scientific evolutionism. That God created the universe in seven days is a fact to many of us as it is a fact to atheists that God does not exist. To say the least, just as hard as it has been to religion to physically prove the presence and therefore the location of God, it has also not been possibly for scientists and atheists combined to conclusively prove the “fact” of evolution or give evidence based alternative explanation for the origin and existence of the universe. My question to him and likeminded individuals will still be, what is the reason for living, what is the ultimate goal for our existence?

I would however like to quote Professor Lessan; I wonder where he is nowadays who told us during my high school days, “If you are a living and sound human, make sure that you at least have a god to run to when all fails.” We should not undermine the existence of God. King Solomon tried and his conclusion was that too much wisdom somberness in the longer run. It is vanity.

That a rib is not important and therefore women, who were made from a rib, are useless holds no truth at all. I cannot do without any of my ribs as they are now; I have never broken any by the way. Try break one rib and you will report to us how painful your experience will be. The human physiology or anatomy so to say was designed in perfect shape and function by the creator of the universe. Doing away with a rib creates an imbalance which limits the physical functioning of the whole. It affects body balance to the extent that you will only be able to lean to a certain extent, or carry a certain amount of load.

The article alludes that women are enslaved by their sexual desires and that this makes them bow down to men. To the contrary, I am convinced that men are more enslaved by sex than women, so much that we even pay for it. The sight of a well shaped woman who is also of the preferred height and skin toning is so captivating and confusing to men many of them confusedly hit stumps on the walkways or cause accidents. A woman in her beauty, her desire to serve the best of herself, and with her quest for perfection is the definition of heaven itself. We are all enslaved by her sweet forbidden fruit if what a majority of us define the forbidden fruit to be is anything to go by. They are a beautiful people and their intelligence and wit has toppled even some of the greatest men in history.

Patriarchy, which forms the foundation for his argument against the two third gender rule, is not a universal practice, not even in our country.

My only issue with the two third gender rule is that it is one sided. It is founded on the belief that it is only the girl child that has all the odds against her. The male child is endangered more. The boy child has so many things dependent on him right from birth. He is taught to believe that he is the one who is not supposed to cry no matter what, he cannot afford to be emotional, he is supposed to care of the home, be the provider, sire children, he must marry a woman, own land build a house, and own property, to prove his manhood. It is no wonder that women live longer than men.

Finally, I board buses to work every working day and more often than not, almost fifty present of the passengers are women who, I presume, are also usually on their way to work. This is not to say that we have enough women holding high profile positions. Of course we do, but let as many more as possible empower themselves and go for the head. Kenya is a lais·sez-faire society.

About the Author:

Janes Ouma Odongo holds a first Class Honors in Disaster Management and International Diplomacy from Masinde Muliro University of Science and Technology. Currently pursuing his masters in Disaster Management at The University of Nairobi, he is a teaching assistant at The Technical University of Kenya.

Odongo is accessible through email:

Please follow this link to the original work by Professor Kabaji:

Conceptualizing Gender Disparity: An Argument

By Janes Ouma Odongo


Though there have been many debates globally on what gender equity is, this has not been fully agreed upon due to the raging war fired up by misunderstandings, or misinterpretation of what gender inequality constitutes.

This paper seeks to, upon comparing the various definitions given, conceptualize the concept and operationalize it by giving it measurable and definite variables.

Dictionary definitions


According to, gender refers to the state of being male or female (typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones). The synonym for this word is sex. This definition is shared by Oxford Dictionary which also defines the noun as, “The state of being male or female. The dictionary however states that the term is typically used with reference to social and cultural differences rather than biological ones; in most cases.

This paper will adopt the above definition for the noun gender.


Defined as a great difference, lack of similarity or equality, disparity is the condition of being unequal in, the free and respectively, the term has several synonyms including but not limited to contrast, disagreement, discrepancy, desperateness, disparity, dissimilarity, dissimilitude, distance (

Gender Disparity

Also means gender inequality, gender gap, or gender marginalization ( It is a disproportionate difference, as in attitudes and voting preferences, between the sexes, (, or the difference between women and men in regard to social, political, economic, or other attainments or attitudes, or the problem perceived to exist because of such difference, (

Gender disparity, then, refers to statistical differences in the possessions, statuses, and opportunities between men and women. For instance, the raw statistic on the average income of men and women somewhat famously has women making around three quarters of the income of men, on average (

Conceptualizing gender inequality as a feminist construct

Whereas some scholars consider gender equality campaigns as programs meant to empower women and help them overcome their historical disadvantages so that they can catch up with the privileged men, (Robert Max Jackson), many others consider it a feminist drive. Feminism, as used here, means the range of movements and ideologies that share a common goal: to define, establish, and achieve equal political, economic, cultural, personal, and social rights for women. These seeks to “turn” women into men by simply claiming that men get better treatment than women. The “special” treatment of men, they claim, is achieved through attitudes, voting preferences between the sexes, individual attainments as well as through social, economic and political status all of which are preferable assigned to men. In most cases than not, gender disparity tends to be focused on income disparities between men and women, (Thomas Pogge and Keith Horton (2008). Their campaign is mainly driven by the feminist theory which states that as long as genders are imbalanced, there will always be an obstacle to peace for women. This claim is however not cognizant of the fact that the more “empowered” they become, women get very selfish and outperform themselves only to realize that the ends, for them, are less satisfying, and that they desperately need their sense of womanhood; having a husband, getting children and being the mother figure in society.

Furthermore, earning these incomes come with responsibilities that have overtime proved challenging for women to take up. In a realist world, earning more means working harder and for longer hours using more mental, emotional and physical energy. Whereas men are often available for such, women are sometimes not whole-heartedly given to the same. Many expect to reap the fruits without putting in the works, merely through affirmative actions. Even on occasions when they get the opportunity, many a woman will ride on the back of a man or several men to deliver the results and get credit. This applies in all cadres of education and work environments. And, whereas this does not apply to all women, a majority tend to prefer this route. Wailing at the top of their lungs for rights and equality that they are rarely willing to work hard towards achieving. Women are largely lazy at the work place. Although this has also been attributed to their myriad other responsibilities outside work, a good proportion of womenfolk develop these dependent tendencies independent of their social status.

The feminist ideals are blind to the fact that gender income disparity isn’t the only type of gender disparity. Opportunity disparity, which might be measured in things like available college scholarships (in which women actually have a 3-to-1 advantage over men), success-encouraging social attitudes (which is arguably the most significant social factor still actively oppressing women in the US), or gender-biased business hiring and promotion practices play at least as big a role in gender disparity as a raw income disparity does, ( There are also a number of jobs which are mentally reserved for women because they demand warmth and serve male clientele. Similar jobs exist for men as well, and often demand more energy and endurance than many women can deliver.

Many companies simply just don’t hire women because of poor job performance which spring from work-family conflicts. This concern tends not to favor women in a hotly competitive work environment where job retention and career growth is based on results, ( In the business world, women’s businesses tend to grow more slowly than men’s. They also tend to be smaller. Researchers report that women chose to keep their businesses smaller so that they can manage their family responsibilities better, because they aren’t aware of the funding mechanisms available for growth, and because they’re leery of giving up control out of concern over what’s going to happen to the business then, ( These factors have nothing to do with gender discrimination but are a matter of personal choice.

Socially, whereas it is assumed that men are superior to women, women actually determine men’s behavior Some scholars have have claimed that men are born by women to serve women who, being the slave owners (women), constantly cry as if being the slaves themselves. Some analysts conclude that having come from between a woman’s legs as a child, in his adulthood, a man will toil and sweat to his death trying to go back there as many times as possible. Knowing this, in a law abiding society, women will spend their time frustrating men’s efforts at meeting their innate desire making them slave owners for sure. A man will spend his entire adult life seating to take care of women and their off-springs, with laws being put in place to ensure they cooperate or face dire legal, economic, social and mental repercussions.

This however is not to say that there is no gender discrimination; there could be. However, studies on gender discrimination should not only lean towards one sex. These studies should be open up and disentangled from feminism so that factors that lead to discrimination against men as well as women in specific contexts can be brought to fore. Too much talk of female empowerment can as well be seen as encouraging male inequality as is the case today, ( This does not serve any justice to the gender parity campaign going on at the global arena. Feminism as it is practiced today is not the same as equalism. Gender parity as the campaign tool used by women today, is a political campaign tool used by women who want to get ahead in life. The orchestrators of this tool do not necessarily campaign for the “woman person” but for the selves.

I was once a neighbor to a couple that fought often times. On these occasions, the woman of the house would wail out loud calling for help because the man was ‘killing her’. However, on getting access to their house, we would find the man on the floor writhing in pain from stab wound. The lady simply used to physically and mentally abuse the husband while playing the victim. When taken to hospital however, the man would protect the wife claiming he hurt himself somewhere else to avoid having the wife imprisoned, or having them have legal battles.

The other factor that we may not want to agree with but which is postulated by anthropologists is that women have rarely occupied a position of higher status or greater political power than men in any society, anywhere, anytime. Women sometimes controlled wealth, and they sometimes served as warriors but in most cases such women were exceptions. Gender inequality is not the product of insurmountable processes or sex differences in modern societies. Further to this, the pervasiveness of gender inequality does not reflect some needs of people or social organization that will be undermined if we establish equality, (Robert Max Jackson). This, in my view, and if the saying that history repeats itself be true, makes feminism and the call for gender parity a waste of time. Empowerment of marginalized groups would work better for both sexes, for everyone, really. The human race on earth has always largely been a patriarchal society and has always been peaceful due to that. Interfering with this status will tilt the equilibrium of this and will come with negative consequences ranging from increased domestic violence, higher divorce rates, increased drug use and the death of the family institution to the frustration and sadness of the women themselves if not anyone else. Feminists are hence wrong in championing for gender equity.

Even if debate on gender disparity was to be sustained, the approach should be different. Gender disparity should be measured in terms of access to opportunities across the sexes. This should be in terms of the percentage of men in employment or that are unemployed against the same for women. It can also be based on the percentage of male workers against that of female workers per industry.

Calculating gender disparity based on salary scales and access to better opportunities; things which entirely depend on qualifications and networks that an individual posses, is by far a show of selfishness by the propagators and does not work to the general good of the female human.

Confirming or disapproving the prevalence of male dominance

If measurements of gender disparity must be based on access to resources and opportunities as is the desire of the feminist initiators of the drive, then there is need to sample some examples of opportunity areas, find out what percentages by men and women have access to these opportunities then find the mean of these percentages by gender. A comparison of these means should then be done to determine weighting/ lean.

This approach, it is my conviction, will define for us the global mean (in the concerned society) in terms of access to the sampled opportunities and hence tell us to which side gender disparity leans in favors or disfavor; whether male or female. The calculations will be based on sheer numbers of people by sex rather than the extent to which each individual benefits. The latter is based on competence and is specific to individual efforts as earlier on highlighted.

Unemployment levels are measured based on the basic definition of unemployed as a person who is actively searching for employment is unable to find work. This definition will not include housewives who willfully decide to stay at home and take care of the family.

The paper hypothesizes that gender disparity is context based. These contexts can range from one factor to another. These factors hence form the various variables to e measured and can actually be investigated as elaborated in the table below:


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Data Set